Sunday, January 29, 2023

Challenger Explosion

Yesterday marked an anniversary of the tragic Space Shuttle Challenger flight. It's been almost forty years.

Few saw the event live: TV networks didn't broadcast the launch and cable TV wasn't popular yet. Media showed tape of the tragedy endlessly but only after it happened.

While the physical cause of the explosion was technical (failure of O-ring seals) its real cause was human error. NASA administrators felt pressured to move forward with a scheduled launch despite warnings from engineers that weather conditions were unsafe. (Cold temperature made the seals fail.) There was no escape mechanism for the shuttle -- despite being available --because NASA officials decided it was too expensive. 

A Presidential Commission investigated the incident and concluded NASA officials were to blame. The Commission recommended changing the decision-making process at the agency to improve safety in future flights. Essentially bureaucrats are now forced to pay more attention to engineers.

Post-crash investigation showed, sadly, that most of the seven astronauts survived the air explosion but died three minutes later when the crew module hit the ocean at 200 mph. There was nothing they could do during that time and their bodies were torn apart by impact.

Do you remember this sad event?


  1. I do remember seeing this on the news and being absolutely horrified. Can't believe it was almost 40 years ago already! xxx

  2. Oh yes, I remember the Challenger disaster well. And, in more recent memory, the Columbia disaster.
    On the morning of February 1st, twenty years ago, my son and I were watching the live coverage of the re-entry of that doomed shuttle. We were watching the live coverage. It was like a star streaking across the sky.. then there were several stars... Something we'll never forget.

  3. I would have been a very young child at the time so I don't remember it. Very sad!

  4. I was too young to remember seeing it, but my parents always talked about how sad and scary that day was. How it started so full of hope and ended so tragically. It's good that this awful event forced meaningful change as it relates to the safety of launches!


  5. I wasn't born yet! As fascinating as I find outer space, I think this incident and many, many more remind just how terrifying it is at times.

    1. True. We weren't designed to be in space and it's inhospitable so tiny mistakes can have grave consequences.